January 9, 2012

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students: 

College Updates

Happy New Year! I hope you were able to enjoy family and friends during the holidays. I want to extend a special thanks to those in the Veterinary Medical Center who worked over the holiday weekends to provide critical and emergency services to our clients and patients.

We start the New Year with many important projects underway, and a few new ideas and priorities that I want to share with you.

Let me start with two important committees that will be reviewing ethical and business issues, and then get to the exciting work being done in the college to identify our priorities for the upcoming capital campaign. 

First, we are convening a College Investigative Committee. The university requires each college to have a governing group that explores concerns of inappropriate behavior and ethical issues among staff and faculty. While this group has always existed as a college committee, it has not been convened in recent years. The Investigative Committee will review complaints of inappropriate ethical behavior, and personnel issues. They will also help to establish a code of values and conduct for the college, a critical component of our new culture shaping efforts. 

We are also establishing a Working Group to explore the pros and cons of changing the business model for delivering veterinary medical education in the future, which was a key finding and recommendation of the Focus-Forward Weekend event in July. There has been a special convergence of events and factors that have made us question the viability of our current model. These include: the reduction of state and federal funding, with more reductions anticipated; the growing student debt load with rising tuition and fees; the increasing costs of successfully operating a comprehensive college such as ours; our ability to ensure the college’s exceptional academic and training experience; the need to remain highly competitive to recruit for high-quality applicants; the need to increase streams of revenue; and the Ohio State budget model that is biased in favor of undergraduate programs. This Working Group will consider all aspects of the student experience, from the undergraduate experience and current requirements for entry to the college, to our four-year curriculum. In addition they will asses the opportunity to develop new programs for pre-vet students and veterinary technicians; and consider ways to reduce student debt. The Working Group will create a college-wide report that will be distributed for further discussion and refinement.

Fundraising

As most of you know, we are embarking on the public phase of the university-wide Capital Campaign in 2012. While we continue to aggressively fundraise, it will be important that we also set priorities for these efforts. Each of the departments in the college, and the Veterinary Medical Center, has completed “mini-retreats” during which we explored priorities, opportunities, and new ideas to improve all mission areas of the college. For me, this has been a wonderful chance to listen and experience the remarkable creativity and innovation of our faculty and staff. Many great ideas have emerged, and a small group is currently synthesizing the information so that we can summarize and prioritize our programs and directions. As we review and assimilate these ideas and prioritize the results, I want to make it perfectly clear, however, that our three top exiting priorities will remain the same: 1) Renovations of the Veterinary Medical Center; 2) Securing new faculty and staff positions; and 3) Increasing support for our students. Thus, we will focus on these three areas and further develop and gain support for the exciting new programs and ideas that were generated during the retreat process, and our Focus-Forward Weekend events from the past two summers. We will compile all of our work into a College of Veterinary Medicine Capital Campaign Report and Guide, and broadly disseminate it to donors, alumni, and interested prospects. 

Why did we embark on these retreats at this time? The university’s $2.5 billion dollar campaign, of which our college goal is to raise $92 million offers us an opportunity to focus our strategic efforts on our highly successful programs that need additional support, on new opportunities for our faculty, staff, and students, and on projects that excite donors, and encourage their financial support. The College of Veterinary Medicine is uniquely positioned for success. Here are a few considerations: Ohio State is focused on three new “discovery themes,” two of which directly include veterinary medicine: Health and wellness issues, and Food and Food Security. We are an important component of the Public Health Preparedness for Infectious Diseases (PHPID) program, and they are developing a new five-year plan right now. There are numerous opportunities for veterinarians to expand a general understanding of the importance of “One Health,” along with the development of new programs. Finally, this is a great time to seek partnerships with the other six health science colleges, as well as other outside partners. 

Campus Updates and Partnerships

Just before the holidays, our Office of Research and Graduate Studies hosted a group from the James Cancer Center. Their team was most impressed with our contributions to cancer research, including our comparative oncology programs, our core services, and our Clinical Trials Office. I want to thank Dr. Pat Green, associate dean, and oncology faculty Drs. Cheryl London, Bill Kisseberth, Brad Bolon, and Krista LaPerle for providing an outstanding overview of our programs. 

Friday morning, I had the opportunity to speak at the annual Dairy Producers meeting. I was pleased to see that several of our students were also on their agenda presenting research results. This is an important event, and I appreciate the opportunity to reach out to this group. I appreciate the involvement of Drs. Jeff Lakritz and Mike Rings, professors in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences and our Hospital for Farm Animals, as well as Dr. Eric Gordon, from our Marysville Large Animal Service, who were involved in this meeting, and continue to offer great support to these practitioners. 

Dean Lonnie King